The Washington Times - May 5, 2011, 06:49PM

PHILADELPHIA — Rick Ankiel was held out of the Nationals lineup for the third straight day as he continues to nurse a sore right hand after hurting it making two diving plays in the outfield on Monday night.

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said Ankiel will need at least one or two more days to rest the hand and he did not take batting practice on Thursday. That said, the Nationals still do not anticipate Ankiel needing to go on the disabled list and have no plans to put him there. 

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“It’s still sore,” Riggleman said. “He’s just really not feeling real good swinging yet so we’re just going to give it at least one more day. I’m not sure when we’ll get him back in there. If he wants to get back in we’ll get him in there as soon as we can.”

When asked how his hand and wrist were feeling, Ankiel simply replied that everything was good but his absence from the lineup again created some shuffling for Riggleman. Jerry Hairston Jr. again played center field in Ankiel’s place and, for the first time this season, Alex Cora (playing third) was slotted into the second spot in the lineup in an attempt to get more left-handed hitters atop the lineup against Roy Halladay.

“Roy in particular, he’s just so tough on right-handed hitters you just want to run as many left-handed hitters up there early in the game as you can,” Riggleman said. “And when the lineup turns over, have left-handers hitting. He’s tough on everybody but you feel like you’ve got a better chance against left-handers.”

Laynce Nix, who started in place of Michael Morse, was another left-hander placed up top in the lineup, getting the start at cleanup and dropping Adam LaRoche to fifth. 

Morse, who was a last-minute scratch before Wednesday’s game, said he felt some discomfort in his right knee hitting in the cage prior to Wednesday’s game. He didn’t anticipate it being anything serious but Riggleman held him out of the lineup again on Thursday as a precaution. He is available to pinch hit.

– Nationals manager Jim Riggleman held an impromptu closed-door hitters meeting with the position players and hitting coach Rick Eckstein this afternoon to remind them of his confidence in them to come out of the almost team-wide funk that has produced a .225 team average.

The full story on the meeting can be found on the main site but Riggleman did lighten the mood in discussing the meeting in admitting that it was tough timing to hold a meeting like that hours before the team faces Halladay. 

“Usually you like to have those meetings when you’re facing an emergency starter,” Riggleman quipped. “There’s no magic facing Halladay.”